Work permits for students

I’m an international student in Canada. Can I work while studying?

You may be eligible to work in Canada while studying, if your study permit includes a condition that says you can work on or off campus. You must also meet all the other requirements. You can only start working in Canada when you start your study program. You can’t work before your studies begin.

Work on or off campus

As a study permit holder, you may be able to work on-campus or off-campus without getting a work permit. Make sure you meet the requirements before you find a job.

Work as a co-op student or intern

You will need to get a work permit if your study program includes a required co-op or internship placement. Find out how to apply for a co-op work permit.

Work after you graduate

You may also be able to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) to continue working in Canada after you graduate. Find out if you’re eligible for a PGWP.


As an international student, can I work in Canada without a work permit?

Yes.

If you have a study permit and are enrolled full-time in an eligible institution:

If you have a study permit and are enrolled full-time in an academic, professional or vocational training program at a designated learning institution:

If you receive your study permit after June 1:

You may work for any employer in Canada who is not on the ineligible employer list.

You must have the appropriate work permit in order to take part in a co-op or internship program. You also must apply for a post-graduation work permit in order to work in Canada after your studies. For more details, see Work Permits for Students.


I’m an international student. Can I work before my study program starts?

No. If you’re eligible to work on or off campus while studying in Canada, you can only start working once your study program starts.

Make sure you meet all the requirements for working on campus or off campus, before you start working. If you want to work before you start your studies, you must apply for a work permit.


I’m an international student. Can I continue to work after I’ve finished my study program?

Generally, no. You must stop working once you’ve received your final grades.

You can continue to work after you finished your studies only if:

Find out if you meet one of these exceptions.


As an international student, can I take part in co-op and internship programs?

If you are in an academic, professional or vocational training program at a designated learning institution that requires work experience, such as a co-op or internship placement, you will need a work permit as well as a study permit.

To get a work permit, you must prove that the work experience is essential to completing your program. Acceptable proof could include a letter from the school you are attending or a copy of the school curriculum.

The work experience cannot be more than 50% of your total program of study.

If you are studying English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL), or participating in general interest or preparatory courses, you are not eligible for a co-op work permit.

For more information, see Work permits for students - Co-op and internship programs.


There’s a specific employment location on my co-op or post-graduation work permit. Can I work somewhere else?

It depends on where the employment location information is on your work permit.

If the location is under Additional Information

You can work in any location across Canada. You don’t need to apply to change your work permit. If you have a co-op work permit, your work must be required to complete your study program.

Sample work permit with employment location under “Additional information” indicated with red arrow and box

Figure 1. Employment location information under the “Additional Information” section of a sample work permit.

If the location is under Conditions or Remarks/Observations

You must work at the location on your permit. You must apply to change the conditions of your work permit if you want to work in a different location. To do this, you’ll need to apply for a new work permit from within Canada. Select “Inside Canada” to find out how you can apply for your new permit. Include a letter explaining why you need the condition removed from your work permit with your application.

Sample work permit with employment location indicated with a red arrow and box

Figure 2. Employment location information under the “Conditions” section of a sample work permit.


There’s a specific occupation on my co-op or post-graduation work permit. Can I work in a different field?

It depends on where the occupation information is on your work permit.

If the occupation is under Additional Information

You can work in any field. You don’t need to apply to change your work permit. If you have a co-op work permit, your work must be required to complete your study program.

Sample work permit with occupation/profession indicated with a red arrow and box

Figure 1. Occupation information under the “Additional Information” section of a sample work permit.

If the occupation is under Conditions or Remarks/Observations

You must work in the field listed on your permit. You must apply to change the conditions of your work permit if you want to work in a different occupation. To do this, you’ll need to apply for a new work permit from within Canada. Select “Inside Canada” to find out how you can apply for your new permit. Include a letter explaining why you need the condition removed from your work permit with your application.

Sample work permit with occupation indicated with a red arrow and box.

Figure 2. Occupation information under the “Conditions” section of a sample work permit.


My co-op work permit says “not authorized to work for any employer other than stated”. What does it mean?

As a co-op student, your co-op work permit might say:

This is to identify you as a co-op student. It means you can work for any employer that’s accepted by your school’s co-op program.

If your employer doesn’t understand this condition

If the condition on your work permit is causing problems for you with your employer, you may apply to remove the condition.

To do this, you must apply for a new work permit.

Include a letter explaining why you need the condition removed from your work permit (that is, it’s causing problems with your employer) with your application.

There is no fee for this.

If you change schools

If you change schools and stay in a co-op program, you must apply for a new work permit. This means your new co-op work permit will say your new school is your employer.

You won’t need to pay another application fee to change your co-op work permit conditions or for the new co-op work permit.


As an international student, how do I apply for an off-campus work permit?

As of June 1, you will no longer need to apply for an off-campus work permit. If you have a study permit and are enrolled full-time in an academic, professional or vocational training program at a designated learning institution, you may work off campus without a work permit.

Your study permit will indicate if you are able to work off campus. If so, you are allowed to work for up to 20 hours per week while your program is in session and full-time during scheduled breaks in the academic calendar. You may work for any employer in Canada who is not on the ineligible employer list.


Can I continue to work during scheduled school breaks?

Generally, yes. Your study permit must still be valid and you must still meet all the requirements.

If you work off-campus

You can work full-time during scheduled breaks, like over summer holidays and during spring break. You must meet all the requirements for working off-campus before you start working. Once your school year restarts, you can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week.

If you work on-campus

You can work full-time during scheduled breaks, like over summer holidays and during spring break. You must meet all the requirements for working on-campus before you start working.


Can I work in any type of job if I am eligible to work off campus?

Yes. You may work for any employer in Canada who is not on the ineligible employer list, as long as you continue to comply with the requirements of the off-campus work authorization. You must also get an immigration medical exam if you plan to work in certain occupations.


Can I work as many hours as I want if I’m eligible to work off-campus?

No. If you’re eligible to work off-campus, you can work up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session. During scheduled breaks, like the summer or winter holidays and spring break, you’re allowed to work more than 20 hours.

You can only start working in Canada when you start your study program. You can’t work before your studies begin. Find out more about who can work off-campus, including part-time students and students on authorized leave.

If you’ve completed your study program, you may be able to work full-time.


What is a post-graduation work permit?

The post-graduation work permit allows students who have graduated from a participating Canadian post-secondary institution to gain valuable Canadian work experience.

Note: Work obtained through the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program may help support your application to become a permanent resident of Canada.


How do I apply for a post-graduation work permit?

How you can apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) depends on where you’re applying from. Most people must apply online for their PGWP. Find out how you can apply for your PGWP.

Make sure you’re eligible for a PGWP before you apply. You have 180 days after your school issues your final marks to apply for a post-graduation work permit.

When you apply, make sure you pay the “Open work permit holder” fee and the standard work permit fee.

If you need to extend or change the conditions on your PGWP

You must apply on paper if you’re extending or changing the conditions on your PGWP. You can only extend your PGWP if your passport expired earlier than your PGWP validity should have been. You may need to change the conditions on your PGWP if you need to provide an additional document, like a medical exam, after you already applied.

You can only extend a PGWP if we tell you to.


How long is a post-graduation work permit valid?

A post-graduation work permit (PGWP) may be valid anywhere between eight months and up to three years. The length of your permit will depend on the length of the study program you completed in Canada. The permit won’t be longer than the length of your study program. Find out more about how long a PGWP can be valid.

If your passport expires before your PGWP should

Make sure your passport is valid for the entire length of time you should be eligible for. If your passport expires earlier:

  • we’ll only issue you a PGWP that’s valid until your passport expires
  • we’ll tell you if you need to extend it to get the full validity

You can only extend a PGWP if we tell you to. If this happens, you have to apply on paper to extend your PGWP so that it’ll be valid for the full length it should be.


How much does a post-graduation work permit cost?

The fee for a post-graduation work permit is CDN$155; however, you must also pay the CDN$100.00 “Open Work Permit Holder” fee. Find out more about the required fees.


Can I apply for a job before I get my post-graduation work permit?

Yes, but only if you:

If we refuse your post-graduation work permit, you must stop working immediately.


Can I work anywhere, in any type of job, under the Post-Graduation Work Permit Program?

The post-graduation work permit is an open work permit. This means that you can work in any occupation anywhere in Canada, and change employers any time you wish.

Note: You may not work for an employer on the ineligible employers list.


How do I qualify for a post-graduation work permit?

To qualify for a post-graduation work permit, you must have graduated from a public institution or a recognized degree program at a private institution. These institutions may include a university, college or a Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel (an educational institution in Quebec that offers pre-university classes and technical career programs).


Can I apply for a post-graduation work permit before I get my diploma?

You don’t have to wait until you physically receive your diploma or attend your graduation ceremony to apply for a post-graduation work permit (PGWP).

All you need to apply for a PGWP is:

You have 180 days after your school issues your final marks to apply for a post-graduation work permit. To be eligible for a PGWP, your study permit must have been valid at some point during these 180 days.


Can I work while I am waiting to receive my post-graduation work permit?

You can work full-time while waiting for a decision on your post-graduation work permit application if, at the time you submitted your application, you:


I’m waiting for my post-graduation work permit. Can I travel outside Canada and come back with my student visa?

It depends. Your permit (study or work) is not a visa and doesn't allow you to travel back to Canada.

When you return to Canada:

A border officer will have some questions for you when you arrive back in Canada. The officer may ask you for proof that you applied for a post-graduation work permit (a copy of your application, the fee payment receipt, etc.)

If the officer believes there is reason to refuse your re-entry, you will not be able to enter Canada.


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